Actually, a lot of things: ignorance, stupidity, indoctrination, mimicry, mental illness, wishful thinking, demagoguery, moral insanity, envy, projection, lust for power, ideology, tenure.
Regarding ideology, I read a piece this morning that highlights a useful distinction between the mere lie and ideological lying. "Ordinary falsehood"
“stays in touch with the truth and knowingly distorts the truth,” whereas the “ideological lie, by contrast... seeks to impose a pseudo-reality upon reality. It does not depart from reality so much as [it] completely ignores reality and... seeks to disrupt our normal access to reality.”
Yes. As we've mentioned before, the ordinary lie is parasitic on truth. In order to tell this type of lie, one must be aware of the truth, and the purpose of the lie is to fool oneself or others into denying it. For example, does Obama really believe he and not Trump is responsible for our booming economy?
That actually introduces a third type of lying. You could call it a "twilight lie," because it is half-known and half-unknown. UnKnown, so to speak. In this case, Obama's lie is probably conditioned by his vanity, narcissism, and self-importance. Of course, he also lies for ideological purposes, but then he wouldn't take personal credit for the recovery, but would attribute it to leftist policies. That would be harder to do, since Trump has been systematically undoing Obama's leftist policies.
This picture depicts Obama's dilemma: twilit lie or ideological lie?
Interestingly, Obama chooses to sacrifice his ideology to his narcissism. A real ideologue will sacrifice even his self-interest to his ideology -- like Soviet communists who denounced themselves and became martyrs to the ideology.
In America, few ideologues go that far. The brainwashed masses certainly do -- they routinely sacrifice self-interest to envy, hatred, and resentment -- but the leaders never do. Rather, they monetize e., h., and r., as have leftists from Bernie Sanders to Al Sharpton to the Obamas. Show me the leftist leader who dies a poor man.
Truman said something to the effect that there is a name for a politician who enters office a poor man and leaves a rich man: crook.
Back to the linked article. The ideological lie not only ignores truth but creates a pseudo-reality:
The pseudo-reality “acquires a very peculiar but real strength,” Taylor said.... “It becomes reality itself, albeit a reality altogether self-contained, one that on certain levels may have greater weight than reality as such. Reality does not shape theory, but rather the reverse.
It can appear that “theory itself... ideology itself, makes the decisions that affect people, not the other way around,” the Skidmore professor said. “And so in this precise sense, totalitarian regimes, ideocracies, are inhuman” and impenetrable.
Yes². I'm particularly intrigued by what he says about reality becoming "self-contained." This goes to one of those permanent intellectual passions I mentioned a few posts back -- you know, the notion that every intellectual-type person is animated by one or two or three core ideas that they keep rediscovering. This is reflected in the gag that all philosophy is autobiography in disguise.
For me, one of the Big Ideas of my autobobography is that of the open system. My obsession with it can be traced back to my doctoral dissertation, which, now that I think about it, contains all of the Big Ideas that have been haunting me ever since. But let's focus on open systems.
Back in the day (1994), when my goal was to be a scholar and not a cult leader, I published an article called Psychoanalysis, Chaos, and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure. I won't fascinate you with the details, but a dissipative structure is essentially a self-organizing, open system that exchanges matter, energy, and/or information with the environment. Obviously, all living things are dissipative structures, but my article showed how the human mind operates in the exact same way, only on a higher level.
Some of this stuff could have been written today: it both leads and points back to One Cosmos. Oldbob speaks of a desire to "unify diverse fields of science" and "attenuate the traditional boundaries that divide different 'departments' of learning." Elsewhere he raves about overcoming "the presumed distinction between the animate and inanimate" and "the contradictions between physics and biology, being and becoming, and freedom and determinacy."
Or, check this out. Somehow it slipped past the peers and into a sober journal: "life is not simply an anomalous refugee from the laws of physics, enjoying a brief triumph over the ineluctable necessity of entropy. Rather, life is understood to be an intrinsic expression of the type of universe we happen to inhabit. Similarly, 'mind' is considered immanent, not in solid spatial structure (like a mind mysteriously 'contained' in a brain) but as reflected in the process through which all systems self-organize and renew themselves."
And no, I wasn't just deepacking the chopra. Rather, I proceed to describe in detail exactly what I mean. All of it still holds up, only my perspective has widened and deepened since then. Or rather, I now know explicitly what I only en-visioned then implicitly.
So yesterday, while driving, the phrase pops into my head "open cosmos." That is truly the ultimate question: is the cosmos an open system, or is it closed? Something tells me we've posted on this subject before, but in any event, here it is again.
The bottom line, since we're getting to the bottom of the post, is that the cosmos is indeed an open system. Open to what? In a word, God. Until quite recently (far less than 1% of our existence), man has been intuitively aware of this openness to a transcendent source. Yes, it has often been expressed in mythological terms, but the myth is a linguistic transformation of the intuitive experience, or awareness, or vision.
For me, it is obvious that truth, love, and beauty (for starters) cannot be reduced to anything wholly intra-cosmic. Indeed, the cosmos itself cannot be explained by the cosmos, but the main point is that man is a vertically open system and that revelation, for example, is a quintessential expression of this.
Wrapping up, you could say that the symbols (↑) and (↓) in the bOOk go precisely to this: they are whatever it is to which we are vertically open, from grace to truth to love to salvation to beauty, etc.
Put it this way: the cosmos is either an open system or it is closed. But if it is closed, you've got a lot of explaining to do. And yet, no matter how detailed your explanation, it amounts to nothing -- the bad kind. It is a massive ideological lie, the most massive manmade object conceivable. It is superimposed upon reality, which may be comforting for awhile -- until your little closed system results in ontological asphyxiation and starvation.